One of the Senate’s biggest critics of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) contentious spying programs wants President Obama to make drastic reforms himself, after a congressional plan was blocked on the Senate floor last month.
A day before a key NSA program comes out for court renewal, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyLawmakers talk climate for Earth Day, Science March Poll: Sanders most popular senator in the US Senate Dems offer bill to restore internet privacy rules MORE (D-Vt.) on Thursday called for Obama to take action into his own hands.
The NSA’s ability to collect and search Americans’ phone records for metadata — such as which numbers a person dialed and how long the conversation lasted — needs to be reauthorized by the secretive surveillance court every 90 days. The current authorization is up for renewal on Friday and the administration is expected to ask for it to continue for another 90 days.
Leahy was the main force behind the Senate’s USA Freedom Act, which would have ended the NSA program and required that agency officials get phone records from private companies after obtaining a court order.
That program failed to surpass a filibuster last month, though the battle will emerge again next year when Congress will be called on to renew the program.
“While I am disappointed that Senate Republicans would not even let us debate the bill, I will continue to fight for strong reforms to government surveillance laws in order to protect the privacy of Vermonters and all Americans,” Leahy pledged on Thursday.